Monckton's hot air

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 24 Februari 2013 | 19.55

CLIMATE sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton's claims about global warming do not hold water, says the leader of one of Tasmania's top research institutions.

Lord Monckton, a critic of what he calls "the climate scam" is on a national tour to argue against the prevailing scientific wisdom.

At a public lecture in Hobart this week, he said there had been no global warming for at least 16 years.

"The climate models were wrong and the world is not going to end," he said.

Tony Press, former director of the Antarctic Division and now CEO of the University of Tasmania's Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre, said Lord Monckton's interpretation was unscientific.

"The argument of 'no recent warming' is wrong and has been debunked time and again," Dr Press said.

"The cherry-picking of dates or selected time periods to cast an argument in support of a pre-conceived idea is not scientific method.

"Climate is variable we here in Australia are very familiar with El Nino and La Nina.

"To understand the path and trajectory of climate change it is important to understand the long-term trends and their causes. You have to look longer than 10 or 15 years. It is only by looking at multiple decades that climate signals become obvious."

Dr Press said it was irrefutable that temperatures had increased steadily in the past 200 years.

Scientists working all over the world, independently and in many institutions, had concluded that this steady increase could be explained only by higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

"You cannot explain it without having an increase in greenhouse gases," he said.

"Our knowledge of physics, even at its most basic, suggests that the release of CO2 into the atmosphere from the burning of all fossil reserves over a short time period will lead to catastrophic increases in global temperature and affect global climate."

He said Lord Monckton was right that the extent of sea ice in parts of the Antarctic had been increasing by about 1 per cent per decade, but this was dramatically smaller than the millions of square kilometres of sea ice lost from the Arctic and there were very large losses around the Antarctic Peninsula.

"What we don't know is whether the thickness of sea ice is changing in Antarctic waters," he said.

"In the Arctic, submarines patrolling under the sea ice during the Cold War recorded data about its thickness. That data has now been declassified and it shows that the Arctic sea ice was thinning long before changes in its surface area were ever noticed."

As for the ocean becoming "slightly" less alkaline, that was a marked understatement.

Researchers at the Antarctic Division in Tasmania had found that increasing ocean acidity was retarding the development of krill, while University of Tasmania scientists at his research centre found it was reducing the ability of some marine organisms to create calcium carbonate shells.

These organisms were essential parts of the food chain.

Dr Press said it frustrated him to encounter the same "climate scam" arguments over and over again, but what frustrated him more was the suggestion that scientists around the world were fraudulent or involved in some "massive delusional group thinking".

He said scientists did not behave like that.

"They are more like a cage full of angry cats than a flock of docile sheep," he said.

"Everybody has to argue their point through. Scientists subject themselves to a very high level of scrutiny, especially in climate science. The quickest way to failure and humiliation is scientific fraud.

"Scientists get much greater rewards if they happen to upturn established wisdom."

"There is a constant jostling to improve or correct the science. This in itself militates against 'group think'."

philip.heyward@news.com.au


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